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Buena Vista Social Club: Buena Vista Social Club

For Americans seeking music from the outside world decades back, the old Nonesuch Explorer series amounted to an oasis. The revived Explorer series has brought us Cesaria Evora and Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares. And now that Nonesuch has signed a distribution deal with the London-based World Circuit label, the exploration instinct continues in a different form, and in a different world. These days, world music labels circle the globe, in more ways than one, and the Nonesuch deal is just one more piece in a puzzle that grows evermore complex.

But it’s an exciting piece, highlighted by the release of three albums recorded in Cuba. The story behind the best of them, Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit/Nonesuch 050; 60:07), adds a layer of mystique and discovery to an already rich musical experience. World Circuit president Nick Gold made a well-placed call to guitarist and world-music traveller Ry Cooder, whose ’90s albums with V.M. Bhatt and Ali Farka Toure captured justifiable attention-i.e. commercial activity and Grammies. Cooder had long loved Cuban music and hopped on a plane in March of 1996.

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